In my last blog, I advised about facing the truth about what’s occurring in your organization (Brutal Facts) and determining where to go to work. Having gone through that exercise myself in the past, I faced challenges in two areas. First, in feeling that we had identified all the key areas to work and, second, in making sure we were working the right priorities. I experienced sleepless nights reviewing my options and worrying that I was not taking the proper steps. I wondered if I had missed something essential or prioritized some areas because of an emotional reaction or a recent event. For myself, there is only one way to overcome that frozen feeling that makes me hesitate to move forward – get analytical.
There are many ways to analyze choosing different options, but here are three ways that don’t require a lot of number crunching but enlighten your choice.
1. Analyze the impact – Evaluate each option on your list and estimate the impact that action will have on your organization. Sometimes, this is a number, such as increased sales or profit. Other times, the effect can be challenging to measure, such as attracting the right employees or creating a happier workplace. Having already felt that the action is a priority, you probably already know the expected impact. If you are unsure of the benefit, estimate the least impact you can expect and the most impact you can expect from the action to get a feel of the range you can expect. It might seem that the activities that have the most impact are the items to pursue first, but that might not always be the case. Move to step 2 to make that evaluation.
2. Analyze the effort – Estimate the amount of effort it will take to implement the idea. How many people/hours will it take to make this happen? What skills are needed? Is there a required financial investment? Or can the idea be accomplished with relatively little effort? If you don’t have the answers to those questions or can’t even take a good guess, it’s time to do a little research. It would be foolish to pursue actions when you are not sure what it would take to complete them.
3. Analyze the intersection – Once you have estimated the impact and the effort of each idea, you can step back and make choices. If something will have a significant effect with little effort, it is a no-brainer – put it on the list and just do it. If something will have little impact and take an enormous amount of effort, table it until either the effect can be increased or the effort reduced. Those of the easy choices. The real work comes in evaluating the ones in the middle. A robust debate by your team will help you flesh out details on your ideas, learn from each other, and develop an agreed path.
For the perfectionists out there, I encourage you to avoid getting frozen. You can never fully know the future. Make your best guesses about impact and effort, and move forward. Try something even if you are not 100% sure it is the right thing. It’s more important to get started than to be perfect. Often, even if you are 100% correct, you will learn something new and adjust your approach to solve the problem. Get started!
If you need help sorting out priorities for your team, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I can help.